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Black Box Backup
There have been several ideas about how to improve the survivability of information after a plane crash. Here's one that incorporates several of them into a better system.
First, the current black box (which is really orange) should continue to function the way it does now.
Second, a backup black box should automatically be ejected from the plane when any of several critical conditions are met - a sudden drop in air pressure, loss of engine power, the pilot or an engineer uttering the most common set of words during a crash (oh shit), etc...
Third, the first black box should continually transmit new data to the backup black box to keep it current.
Fourth, the backup black box should have video and audio recording capabilities so it can track the plane from a distance. If this backup had been mounted to a remote drone it could actually follow the plane and land near the crash site. If mounting it on a drone proves too expensive then it would use parachutes to come to a soft landing (in either case the backup should have an inflatable raft attached to it that would be triggered by an impact with water - that way we wouldn't have to go a mile down to find the recorder for ocean crashes).
Fifth, if the pilots somehow managed to save the plane at the last moment the only loss would be the cost of the backup box.
An engineering challenge
After dodging 70 miles worth of potholes on I-84 in Pennsylvania the other day to keep them from popping one of my tires it occurred to me that someone should be able to create an option for cars that would make the ride a whole lot smoother. I'm thinking of counter-rotating rollers that when deployed would wedge the front set of tires between them, spreading out the surface area the rubber rollers covered enough to keep them on solid ground above the potholes. The rollers would have to be about as long as the width of the car, and come in a set so both front tires would be nestled in them at the same time. Another set of rollers would take care of the rear tires.
Living in the southeast US where the interstates are in fairly good condition, I wouldn't purchase this option when I bought a new car. But if I lived up north I definitely would add it to the price tag. It would be nice if there was an add-on to the option to handle cases where your car is sliding down a snow-covered hill into a busy intersection - this would be the studs-in-rollers option. It could be deployed in emergency cases so it wouldn't tear up the roads during normal driving. For extremely perilous conditions you could have a spikes-in-rollers option.
GPS can be installed on all trains along with radio transmitters to improve railroad safety. Then they could monitor the locations of all trains from a central control center by computer. By analyzing speed/velocity and the position of each one they could forecast whether any are headed for a crash.
Helicopter Parachute... It would be deployed when the main rotor is fired away because the engine failed. The tail rotor could also be fired away or programmed to steady the craft. Helluva lot better than the alternative!
In buses if seats were turned around to face backwards it would cut back on upper body and head injuries caused by accidents or sudden braking. Instead of slamming into the seat in front of them in a crash their upper body would just be pressed into the padded backrest cushion.
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